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Zimbabwe Court Ends Terrorism Case Against Rights Activist

Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court tossed out terrorism charges against the prominent human rights activist Jestina Mukoko on Monday, ruling that she herself had been terrorized when state security agents abducted and tortured her.

“I am so relieved, I can barely express it,” Mukoko said when contacted by telephone not long after leaving the courtroom in tears. “I knew the court was handing down its judgment, but I did not know which way it would go.”

The ruling represented a rare triumph for human rights activists in Zimbabwe, though it remains to be seen whether the decision signifies any real shift from the repression that has marked much of President Robert Mugabe’s three decades in power.

Mukoko was taken from her home by armed men at daybreak on Dec. 3, barefoot and still in her nightgown, while her teenage son looked on helplessly. She was not seen again for nearly three weeks, and later testified that she was held in secret locations, where she was tortured in an attempt to extract a false confession. She said her captors made her kneel on gravel and repeatedly beat the soles of her feet with rubber truncheons.

A Holy Month Ends, and
Violence Rises Again in Iraq

Eighteen people were killed, and at least 58 others were wounded in a series of bombings across Iraq on Monday as the country’s level of violence picked up again after a relative lull during the holy month of Ramadan.

Monday’s attacks occurred in both Shiite and Sunni areas of the country and took aim at not only the Iraqi army and the police but also at civilians.

In the western Baghdad neighborhood of Ghazaliya, a pair of bombs were detonated – the first directed at a passing Iraqi army patrol, the second at people who gathered afterward to see the wreckage, Iraqi security officials said.

The first blast, caused by a roadside bomb at about 1:45 p.m. caused no fatalities, but it wounded one civilian. The second bomb, which had been attached to a parked motorcycle, detonated minutes later, killing three people and wounding 28, an Iraqi security official said. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

North Korea’s New Constitution Reinforces Kim’s Power

North Korea has officially made Kim Jong Il its “supreme leader” and his “military first” policy its guiding ideology, according to the text of the country’s newly revised constitution made available on Monday.

The constitution also declared for the first time that North Korea “respects and protects” the “human rights” of its citizens, and expunged the term “communism” from its text.

Analysts saw the changes as signs that one of the last holdouts from the former communist bloc was trying to improve its international image in an effort to engage the United States and that the ailing Kim was trying to burnish his legacy.

North Korea revised its constitution in April when its rubber-stamp Parliament re-elected Kim as chairman of the National Defense Commission amid uncertainty over his health. But the outside world was kept in the dark about the details of the amendment until South Korea released on Monday what it called the text of the North Korean Constitution.